Pitshanger Manor Museum, Ealing

Pitshanger Manor Museum is in Ealing, West London, and is a short walk from Ealing Broadway and Ealing Common tube stations, on the Central, District and Piccadilly lines.

Pitshanger Manor is an example of the work of John Soane, with one earlier wing by George Dance. Dance's bit is the west wing, and dates from 1768. There are two large rooms with ornate ceilings, nicely restored, and a fireplace also designed by Dance. There are four early 19th Century classical statues in here also. The rest of the house is by Soane, built in 1801-3 after he bought the estate in 1800. The exterior front is classical, with tall ionic pillars, four free-standing classical female figures on the entablatures, simple but classical, and made of Coade Stone. Also on the Portland Stone frontage are eagles in wreaths, roundels with lions and a fat cherub.

Inside, interiors by Soane include most notably the breakfast room, with Egyptian caryatids (again of Coade Stone, but painted bronze), supporting a shallow domed ceiling, painted to show a sky with clouds. The small library room also has rich decoration, and both these rooms are interesting to compare with Soane's house in Lincoln Inn Fields.

The house functions as a museum, displaying as well as its architecture temporary exhibitions of modern work, and the Hull Grundy Collection of the Martinware pottery. This is the best and most characteristic collection of Martinware, including flowers, birds including the well-known ironic ones, orientalist designs, grotesque fish and monsters. A large ceramic fireplace with angry dragons is the biggest work (it was made for Buscot Park), and there is also a fountain by one of the Martin brothers.

The museum fills a good half hour's casual interest, and should be the highlight of an exploration of Ealing.

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